Do you remember your teachers at school consistently saying to you, “We are not here to socialize!” Do you remember getting in trouble in school for talking to your friends? I do – and often!
It is funny that people associate homeschooling with lack of socialization opportunities. This can’t be farther than the truth! Socialization looks different to all people. Homeschoolers have plenty of ways to get involved in the social realm. Just because socialization doesn’t look the same for everyone, it doesn’t’ mean it doesn’t happen. However, if you are looking for more ways to get your child connected to peers – give these a shot!
Start a Co-op
If your area doesn’t have a homeschooling co-op already, why not go ahead and give one a try. You can start it yourself and have just as good results as anyone else. The key is to make it an inviting and refreshing time for those you invite. One idea is to offer a “Strategy Games Lab”. This was one of the co-ops we began. Each parent contributed $25 per child participating (for the year) and we took the money and purchased amazing, unique board games that encouraged critical thinking and problem solving.
The group came together weekly for 2 hours and played these games. At the end of the year, each family took home ONE game to keep. The remainder of the games stayed as part of the coop for the following year … and yes, the second year, each parent contributed $25 per child participating (for the year) to purchase NEW games.
We did this for maybe four years. It was absolutely amazing. Children interacted. Parents socialized. All ages were included. It was tremendous fun.
This one is a no brainer! Every week (or month) – on a set time and day – get together at a park with picnic food in hand! Simply announce the day and time and walla! Have fun!
Field Trip Friday!
This was my favorite. The deal in our family was – if all school work got done for the week by Thursday – we would do FIELD TRIP FRIDAY! In August or September, we’d make a list of places we’d want to visit – museums, plantations, science programs, etc. We’d see what homeschooling days in our state was already planned – and we’d create a calendar. In fact, if you call any museum, they will almost always do the same programs they do for schools (at a very low – if any cost) for a group of homeschoolers. I was the QUEEN of setting these up.
We’d often announce it to the homeschooling community and get a group of 10 or 15 kids together and go! It was not only fun – but educational!
Have a “color war” day (like sleep away camps do)! How about a kickball game? Put together a 5K! Form an obstacle course. Have homeschoolers gather together and have some friendly competition.
Cooking or Baking
Cooking is a great way to get your homeschoolers excited about being social. Invite friends over and host a cook off…. Master Chef…. Cupcake Wars….
One of my daughter’s fondest memories was volunteering to read books to elders at a nursing facility. She went in monthly from the time she could read. At first, I went with her…and walked room to room with her; however, as she aged up, I sat in the common room and let her go on her own. Finally, I would drop her off and pick her up.
With that said, volunteering can come in all shapes and sizes: ASPCA, animal farms, nursing homes, libraries, soup kitchens, etc. Typically, organizations love the help during the day when most students are in traditional school.
With the year beginning, try some new things to encourage socialization in your homeschooling area!
Eva Goldstein-Meola is not only co-founder of Open Tent Academy, but an instructor as well as a former homeschooling mother. She has lived in New Jersey, Florida, Western Massachusetts, Northern Virginia and now resides just outside of Jerusalem. Eva holds a Master’s Degree as a Consulting Teacher of Reading and Writing, IEW certification and a Bachelor’s Degree as an Elementary Teacher. She has also been involved in education since 1986 as a Private Tutor, Teacher, Reading Specialist, Homeschooling Mother, Homeschooling Teacher and Business Owner of an Online Education Consortium.